World Jamboree Year: 1979 Report USA

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1979 'World Jamboree Year' – America

Jamboree Badge

4 – 16 July / South Africans 120

As a result of the 15th World Jamboree in Iran being cancelled, 1979 was declared a 'World Jamboree Year' and the South African Scouts were offered the alternative of attending a Jamboree in Switzerland, USA or Australia.

Report by Roddy Beer - Troop Leader of 1st Camps Bay

The first city we visited was Rio de Janiero in Brazil, where we spent two days. It is a large city similar to Cape Town in many ways. The city buildings spread out between the numerous mountains. The beaches are good, very similar to Camps Bay beach, except the water is a lot warmer. Although it was mid-winter the temperature was 29-30 C and it was very humid, rather like Durban. There is plenty of jungle. All the people are Portuguese, and hardly any of them speak English so we had rather a language problem.

Whilst walking away from Copacabana beach we were surprised to be called in Afrikaans. The person turned out to be a South African who had been living over there for nine months. He is married to a Brazilian girl and teaches English, although he is not qualified. He took us to a restaurant and we had a chat over a Coke. He told us about the city and where we should go and what we should eat. That night we went out to eat, as the food in the hotel wasn't too good. We ordered by pointing to the menu on the wall. We couldn't drink water out of the tap so had to buy bottled water. As this was more expensive than Coke, so we drank Coke.

Colin Harvey, Brian Mulholland and Roddy Beer

The next stop was New York, which was completely different to any other city that I have visited. It is six times the size of Johannesburg. One can see the centre of Cape Town in a morning, but we only saw a fraction of New York. The highest building, the World Trade Centre is 110 storeys high. There are people and cars in the streets all day and night. People sit on the pavement and crime is rife. Three of us were nearly robbed of our cameras in the subway, which has very odd characters lurking around. The trains and walls of the subways are covered in graffiti and there are police on every corner and in every shop. It is a nice city to visit, but not in which to live.

From there we flew to Denver in South West Colorado where we stayed with an American family. Denver was a lovely city. The people were very friendly and open and often stopped to talk to us in the streets. It was very hot and dry, rather like Pretoria and Johannesburg in summer. The family I stayed with were extremely hospitable and took us all over. We went to a baseball match and when it was announced over the loudspeaker that there were Scouts from South Africa present, everyone cheered. The cars were all big and the Americans complained about the price of their petrol being expensive - it is only 25c a litre.

From Denver we travelled by bus to Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico where we hiked 110 km in the Rocky Mountains over a period of 12 days. Here we met plenty of American Scouts, who were very impressed with our hiking ability and our uniforms. They tend to hike in long pants with their pots and pans dangling from their packs. We did not consider ourselves very fit, but were continually asked where we trained as we could outdistance them easily. At night we had to put all our food in special sacks that we hung up in trees away from our camp site. These were called 'Bear Bags' and we did it to prevent the bears raiding our camp sites.

Generally we found the Americans to be very friendly and not at all politically minded about South Africa. In fact most of them did not even know where South Africa was. We were once asked to what African tribe we belonged and found it difficult to explain that our cities were like theirs.

We travelled on three different airlines, Trans World, Pan Am and South African Airways and found S.A.A. the best. After a month in America one of the nicest things was to hear South African accents again when we boarded our South African Airways flight in New York.

Report by Brian Hughes - Troop Leader of 1st Somerset West

Brian Hughes

Saturday, 23 June 1979, at 07h00 we, the contingent from Cape Town, assembled at D F Malan airport. At last, after weeks of correspondence and last minute buying of uniforms, we were off on the first leg of our journey, the destination being Johannesburg.

In Johannesburg the whole contingent assembled at the Bedford View Scout Hall and we met our Patrols, Troop members, Scouts, etc. That morning (we arrived early) was spent standing around talking and waiting for the others to arrive. By lunchtime, most people had arrived and for the first time we were divided up into our Troops.

The afternoon was spent checking kits, getting Troop equipment together, having haircuts and a team of ladies fixed up some of the uniforms. We were also issued with $25 for spending-money in Brazil. In the evening we had supper at the homes of the Bedfordview Scouts, followed by a message from the Mayor of Bedfordview and a talk by the Chief Scout.

Early the next morning photographs were taken and we set off for the airport at 10h00. Very soon we were on our way to Rio de Janeiro, in Brazil, where we arrived at about 16h00 the same day, and were taken by our guides to our hotel near the Copacabana Beach. That evening we were free to look around Rio and have our first taste of not being understood and working out the currency, which is Cruseros and Centavos. Prices in Rio are very similar to South Africa - a cool drink costs about 15 cents.

The following morning was spent sightseeing. We saw the bridge over Guanabara Bay, The Corcovado (Statue of Christ), the Sugar Loaf, the City and the Beaches. In the afternoon we had a game of rugby/soccer on Copacabana Beach and swam. We left Rio at 22h30 on our overnight flight to New York where we arrived at 06h55 on Wednesday morning 27 June.

We stayed in Times Square and the morning was spent looking around there. On Thursday we went on a tour of the United Nations Buildings, the Garment District, Herald Square, Madison Square, Harlem, Greenwich Village, Chinatown and the Financial District. The afternoon was spent in taking a launch tour of Manhattan Island and visiting the Statue of Liberty. The evening was free, so we went up the Empire State Building and the World Trade Centre.

On Friday we flew to Denver where we stayed with host families for four days. I had a very good host and had a fantastic time with the family and were taken to places of interest in the surrounding district by them.

On Wednesday 4 July the Contingent met up again and set off by motor coach for Philmont, the highlight of the trip.

Hiking at Philmont

Here we spent 12 days hiking and camping, and in learning and teaching skills. We attended bases such as gold-mining, black powder rifle shooting, trapping, Western lore, chuck wagon cooking, Burro (donkey) racing, Centina (root beer) drinking, Adobe Casa (making buildings of mud and grass bricks), and Mountain Search and Rescue. Rain prevented us from mountain climbing here, but we did climb Mt. Philips (11 710ft and the second highest Peak in the area), where we had a snow fight, as well as climbing the landmark of the Santa Fe Trail and symbol of the Jamboree, the Tooth of Time. We also attended two campfires.

Eventually we sadly departed from Philmont with loads of souvenirs and memories, and headed for Taos Pueblo (Indian mud village) and Durango, where we spent the night. The next day we took a narrow gauge railway to Silverton, an old cowboy town, returning to Durango to sleep. The following day we set off for the Mesa Verde National Park (abandoned Indian cliff dwellings), Four Corners Monument (the intersection of Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico and Utah State Boundaries), Monument Valley and slept at a typical 'Karoo town' called Page. Our Greyhound bus took us to the Glen Canyon National Park and across Utah to the famous Bryce National Park where we slept the following day. The next morning we hiked amongst the magnificent sand formations which range in colour from deep red to pale yellow and from light blue to grey. In the afternoon we travelled on and slept at the Pioneer Lodge in the Zion National Park.

Then came the never-to-be-forgotten feature - the Grand Canyon which is really fantastic. Then followed our visits to the Petrified Forest, Oak Tree Canyon, Meteor Crater, near Winslow, and the Painted Desert. The final leg of our journey included a visit to El Morro National Monument and a Sandia Peak Tram ride. Sandia Peak Tram is the longest aerial cableway in the Western hemisphere.

On Wednesday, 25 July, we sadly said goodbye to America and all the friends we had met and set off on a marathon flight of almost 26 hours to reach Cape Town. We really had a fantastic time and thoroughly enjoyed every moment of the trip. I appreciate all the work that this trip involved and sincerely thank all those connected with the organisation, our Group Committee for their financial support, Errol for all his advice and our Chief Scout Colin Inglis, for suggesting Philmont as a substitute for Iran.

Greetings to any Jamboree participant reading this article!

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